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Hendrick Motorsports shuffles lineup for 3 teams
Question of the Day
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Hendrick Motorsports made sweeping changes to its organization Tuesday, shuffling the lineup for every team except five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.
A crew chief change for slumping Dale Earnhardt Jr. was not unexpected, but nobody predicted the stunning swap team owner Rick Hendrick ordered just two days after celebrating the organization’s record 10th Cup championship.
Earnhardt, who has just one win through three seasons with HMS, now will be paired with crew chief Steve Letarte. He will move into the building that Letarte shares with Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus.
The previous pairings had Gordon with Letarte, Gustafson with Martin and McGrew with Earnhardt. Nobody believed McGrew would make it through the offseason with Earnhardt, who has struggled since joining HMS in 2008. Hendrick has stopped at nothing to turn around Earnhardt’s performance, but insisted the last several months he would wait until after the season to make any personnel changes.
“This will improve us as an organization, across the board,” Hendrick said in a statement. “We had a championship season, but we weren’t where we wanted and needed to be with all four teams. We’ve made the right adjustments, and I’m excited to go racing with this lineup.”
Hendrick scheduled a Wednesday teleconference to discuss the changes in detail.
Johnson won six races this season, and withstood his toughest challenge to date in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He trailed Denny Hamlin heading into Sunday’s season finale, and became only the third driver since 1975 to rally in the final race to win the championship.
Martin, who finished second in the standings last year and won five races, finished the season ranked 13th.
Earnhardt, who has not won since the 15th race of the 2008 season, was 21st in the standings. He’s got just three victories since 2005, but only three of those seasons were with Hendrick. His inconsistency has led Hendrick to make several changes to his race team, including the firing midway through 2009 of crew chief Tony Eury Jr.
McGrew was assigned to Earnhardt after Eury’s firing on an interim basis, and it was made permanent at the end of last season. But the Earnhardt-McGrew pairing never took off the way Hendrick hoped, even after he paired that team tightly with Gustafson and Martin last winter.
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
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